Tonight was the closing campfire, one of the most traditional events of the Camp Takajo season. The campfire starts off with the call to council, as the entire camp community walks single-file, in silence to our Indian Council Fire Ring.
During the heritage ceremony, one camper from each division joins the group leaders and I to read the heritage of Camp Takajo. Just imagine a roaring campfire under a starlit sky. A handful of campers read a paragraph each, which symbolize the importance of how that camper’s age group is intertwined with the Takajo family.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this traditional campfire is the Squat Dance. Some of the youngest campers dress as braves and dance around the campfire to the sound of the chief’s drum. They squat when the drum stops beating. The camper must stay totally still and silent. With any late movement, he is tapped on the shoulder by the chief, and is removed from the game. You can hear a roar from the crowd throughout the campus for the last brave standing, as he is selected as the winner by the big chief.
One funny antidote that I’ll never forget is when I entered the campfire ring a number of years ago and saw Jeff Cunjak, our athletic director, dressed in Native American garb, including traditional face paint. There was something very familiar about Jeff’s traditional attire, and then it dawned on me.
Earlier that day, Jeff had gone into my home and taken the sheets from my bed, which had an Indian motif, and tore them into a loincloth. As he beat the drum, my wife whispered into my ear, “Is Jeff Cunjak wearing our sheets?” To which I replied, “Now they’re his sheets.”
As the campfire came to an end, we collected the ashes and placed them into a ceremonial urn that will be carefully stored until the opening campfire of 2014. We will place those same ashes into the opening campfire next June, creating continuity from season to season. When one reflects back on his camping career, it will not be the heroic goal he scored or his diving catch that will come to mind. It will be nights like tonight, when the whole camp comes together, that will remain with your son for his lifetime.